One Week One Story (OWOS) #2

Hello Everyone

first of all I think I owe you an apology for keeping you waiting for the result of my second One Week One Story challenge. I was lacking the inspiration and felt like I needed some time to my self after having decided to quit College and start the long road ahead as a writer. Nevertheless, the challenge had been started and it got me stuck at not being able to build up my website.

Now, about 2 weeks ago on Wednesday I was struck by a bolt of inspiration to write a romance, so much so that I wrote about half of it (4190 words) on that same day. It took me a few more weeks to get to finishing this Romance story and now I have it.

so without further ado:

Here you have OWOS #2

Small world

A romance story by Cornelis Frederiks

(8451 words)

Business trips were a pain, you spend most of your time going from meeting to meeting and in the evenings you often have to read tons of paperwork to be sure the requirements are met. It didn’t leave much time to explore the city or enjoy yourself, what little time Chris did have for exploring he enjoyed. Tokyo was a beautiful city, but Chris was surprised with how many people lived in it. His usual fast pace was impossible to keep up with how many people walked on the city street. He was glad he had a driver to pick him up from the hotel, and assure he got to the office in time for the meetings.

Chris was sitting in the hotel lobby on the second day of his trip, he wanted to make sure everything went smoothly so that he could earn himself a week off work to explore the city. Everything had to be spic and span. He was reading through one of the contracts and was making notes of things that seemed to be missing or could be added to it. It was his first overseas business trip and he was given quite the challenge. His trip was to set up a contract with a Japanese producer of computer parts and tablets. He had had some training in multicultural communication but to actually be part of a meeting where every thing you did could be interpreted wrongly was quite a challenge. He was managing though, keeping in mind how the Japanese tended to have an indirect approach to communicating, high context was what he thought it was called. It was very different to the American tendency to be direct, and get down to business as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, he enjoyed the challenge and felt rather confident about the negotiations. He had a cup of tea standing next to him and took a sip every now and then.

He had finished reading to the contract a third time, and closed his eyes for a moment to relax from reading.

I think I’ve done all I can for now, he thought as he slipped the file into his suitcase.

“Chris?” he heard a female voice say.

How on earth would someone here know my name, he thought as he looked at the source of the voice.

The woman looked strangely familiar to him, and was really beautiful. Jet black hair hung down past her shoulders in smooth waves and her face had features that reminded him of a girl he used to know in high school. Rain Okuda was that girl’s name, Japanese father and an American mother. Her face was a beautiful mix of the two. Beautiful green almond eyes that were at a slight angle, and a bright smile. They had been in the same class during high school and were rather close throughout their final year. Chris even remembered taking her to the prom back then.

“Rain?” Chris wondered angling his head and closing his eyes a bit.

The woman smiled brilliantly, before walking closer to Chris’ recliner.

“I knew you looked familiar,” she replied still smiling brightly.

“What brings you here?” asked Chris as he stood up and hesitantly moved to press a kiss on her cheek.

Rain bent towards him and they exchanged pecks on the cheeks.

“I’m on a holiday,” Rain replied. “You?”

“Business trip actually,” he replied as he took off his reading glasses and glanced at his suitcase. “I’m negotiating an overseas contract.”

“Well well,” Rain smiled, “you actually managed to make your dream come true.”

“Pretty much,” Chris replied with a smile, “hard work though, the Japanese are a far cry from the Americans I’m used to negotiate with.”

“Traveled away from America before?”

“Nope, this is actually my first overseas business trip in hopefully many to follow,” Chris admitted.

“How is it going so far?”

“Not sure yet,” Chris smiled, “I had a tour of the factory yesterday followed by the initial meeting. We only started the actual negotiations today.”

“Cool,” Rain smiled, “you here alone?”

“Aye,” Chris replied, “It’s a bit of a solo mission, but I have to report back every evening after the meetings.

he took another sip of his tea, “You?”

“Also here alone,” she smiled, “I had to jump at the possibility to visit my roots, and none of my friends could make it.”

“Can’t believe it’s you,” Chris smiled with a bit of a shake of his head, “it’s been ages.”

“Yeah what are the odds right, it’s a small world after all,” she smiled with a shake of her head. “How long will you be here?”

“Hopefully another week after the negotiations.”

“Not sure of that yet?”

“Nope,” Chris smiled, “the extra week is sort of a reward for a successful negotiation.”

“Jikes, that’s harsh,” she replied pulling back her head.

“I’m just looking at it like motivation,” he smiled brushing a hand through his hair, “How long will you be here?”

“About three weeks,” she replied, “there’s a lot to see.”

“True that,” Chris leaned back into his chair, “I hope to go to the Hanami festival next week?”

“Of course, same here, that is a must see, I hear it’s a beautiful occasion.

“Definitely,” Chris smiled.

They chatted for a little while until Chris noticed that he was starting to get a little hungry.

“Have you eaten yet?” Chris asked.

“Is that an invitation,” Rain smiled.

“Yep,” Chris replied with a smile of his own.

“I haven’t yet and would love to join you,” she smiled, “Could you give me a moment to get my things?”

“I also need to drop of some stuff in my room,” Chris reacted, “How about we meet back here in about half an hour?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Rain replied with a smile, “What floor are you on?”

“Fifth,” Chris replied, “You?”

“I’m on the seventh floor.”

“Than let us head for the elevator,” Chris said as he closed his suitcase and took it with him.

##

Rain was really surprised with finding her high school friend in the same hotel in Tokyo, what are the odds. Truthfully she had missed the man. He had been really nice to her in high school while some of the others tended to call her names, gook was a common swearword for her. Chris was the first to take her as she was and respect her for it. She even remembered him getting into a brawl with one off her bullies once.

She wanted to look her best for him and decided to put on her fancy black dress. It hugged her shape perfectly, and she felt extremely elegant wearing it. She topped it off with a golden necklace and a shawl to cover her shoulders. Rain never liked wearing make up but for this occasion decided to put on a bit of eye shadow, blush and lip stick.

##

Chris had had a bit of a crush on Rain back in high school, and seeing her all grown up and beautiful had made him feel the same butterflies he had back then. Chris had always been a faces person, and Rain had one of the prettiest faces he had ever seen. He wanted to look good, and the best suit he had with him was the right thing for the occasion. He put on a fancy watch to go with his suit and his full brogue black shoes were perfect as well. As he had finished changing, he checked if he had his wallet, keys, passport and every thing else he needed on his person. He closed the door behind him and headed back to the Lobby.

##

About five minutes after Chris had returned to the lobby, Rain exited the elevator and walked towards the lobby on high heels. Chris got up from his chair as he noticed her walking towards him. He felt his mouth fall ajar as he saw how beautiful she looked. The butterflies started to stir even more and Chris had to take a moment to breathe and find his center.

Rain had noticed Chris’ deer in the headlights look and smiled as a response,success,was her thought. He was looking quite handsome himself though and she felt a bit of a stir in her stomach as she looked him over. He wore a fancy dark blue pinstripe suit with a white shirt underneath and a blue tie. His dark blond hair was neatly combed back but it looked like he wasn’t a fan of gel or other styling products. His dark blue eyes seemed to shine a as he took a quick moment to check her out.

Rain’s black dress was hugging her figure beautifully and Chris could see her long legs. She was quite a stunner actually and Chris noticed men looking at her with interested glances. Her dress had a bit of a cleavage and Chris couldn’t help but have a look at how the globes of her bosom pushed out the fabric. She had combed her hair and tossed it over her left shoulder. A hint of a smile was visible on her lips and her eyes.

“You look amazing,” Chris said as she closed the distance.

“Thank you, so do you,” she smiled.

“Thanks,” Chris said with a goofy smile on his face, he felt like he was falling in love all over again. “Where would you like to go?”

“I think I saw a rather fancy restaurant just across the street from here,” Rain smiled indicating the main entrance with a nod, “sound good?”

“Yeah sure,” Chris replied before holding out his arm.

Rain got the idea and put an arm around it allowing Chris to lead the way out of the hotel.

##

The restaurant indeed looked quite fancy, and Chris and Rain were quickly offered a table somewhere in the back. The menu was written in both Japanese, and English and it was clear that the restaurant was focused on having tourists. There was a nice atmosphere here, some soft Oriental tunes played in the background and the dimmed lighting was quite romantic.

“Nice place,” Chris commented.

“It is, isn’t it,” Rain smiled as she checked out the menu, “looks like the food will be pretty good too.”

Chris nodded as he read the menu and saw quite a few dishes that sounded like a good idea.  To start of their meal together, they orderedSake which was served in the traditional Ceramic flask and small cups. The first glass of Sake was poured by the waitress before she took their order.

“I’d like a Miso soup followed by aGyudon Donburi,” ordered Rain as the waitress finished pouring the drink.

“Okay,” was her reply as she seemed to memorize the order.

“I’d also like a Miso soup as a starter but would prefer a ChickenDonburi.”

“Okay, it will be ready soon,” said the waitress before walking back to the kitchen.

“Clearly a tourist location,” Chris commented.

“Ah well, if the food’s good.”

“True,” he replied as he held up hisSake cup. “Cheers.”

Rain smiled as she held up her cup as well, “Kantian,”

They took a sip of theirSake and looked at each other with a smile on their faces.

“Twelve years, and I meet you in Tokyo of all places,” Rain smiled.

“Yeah it is pretty damn unlikely,” Chris shrugged. “but, I’m not complain.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Rain replied taking another sip. “This is goodSake.”

“Indeed it is,” Chris smiled also taking another sip. “So what have you been up to all these years?” he asked with a smile.

“I’ve been following my dream to become an author, and artist,” she replied.

“Ah you always loved to write, draw and paint,” Chris reminisced, “Any successes?”

“I have a blog on writing and two published books,” Rain gave a proud smile.

“What is it ‘you’ do now?” she continued after a short pause.

“I’m a senior consultant at a consultancy agency, this is my first negotiation abroad.”

“How have your local ones gone?”

“Well, I managed to land quite a few contracts, my reward was to take on an international one.”

“Nicely done, Chris,” Rain smiled. “Where do you live now?”

“I have a nice apartment in San Francisco, with a Great view of the city,” Chris replied. “It’s also really close to work.

You?”

“I moved to Los Angeles some time ago, I was able to move into a nice studio apartment.”

“Very nice, it’s a lovely city,” he replied, “Had a negotiation to do there a few years ago.”

“It is indeed, got tonnes of inspiration just moving there.”

“Have you got anyone waiting for you back home?” Chris asked.

“No, a few flings but that is all it was,” she replied, “What about you, is there a missus Donaugh.”

“Nope, I had a girl that was pretty close to becoming my ‘missus’, but I found her sleeping with a friend of mine.”

“Oof, that’s harsh,” Rain reacted sucking in a quick breath.

“Part of the reason I moved to San Francisco, I wanted to get as far away from both of them as I could.”

As he finished his sentence, the waitress came over with two bowls of Miso soup.

“Duomo Arigatou,” Rain said as the bowl was put in front of her.

“Thank you,” said Chris.

“Have a nice meal,” said the waitress with a small bow before leaving the table.

“That was a couple of years ago,” Chris continued, “actually got an invitation for their wedding two months ago.”

“Really, how did they find you?”

“Well, she was a friend of my sister’s so I think she might have given them my address.”

“And did you go?”

“Nah, I wasn’t in the mood and it was going to be during a lengthy negotiation.”

“I understand, seems quite annoying to see them giving their vows.”

“Yeah, not sure if I would have coped, I really loved her.”

It felt good to be able to be open hearted, it seemed that Rain was the right person to talk with about this as well. Back in high school they were pretty close, some of their friends actually thought they were seeing each other. They always seemed to be lacking the balls to actually get together though. They kissed a few times but that was about it.

They chatted some more about their trips here, and what kept them busy. Rain offered Chris a free copy of a book she wrote that she could send to him when they were back in America. Chris accepted it with curiosity and gave here a note with his address. After dinner they returned to the hotel.

##

“I had a great evening, thank you,” Rain said with a smile.

“So did I,” said Chris returning the smile “Want to meet again tomorrow?” Chris asked with a bit of hesitation.

“I Would love to,” she replied without a second thought, “why don’t we exchange phone numbers?”

“Sure,” Chris said as he took his phone from his pocket.

“Shall we meet in the lobby at 6 pm?” Rain suggested.

“Sounds good,” Chris said after checking his time table.

Chris pocketed his mobile phone and looked at Rain with a smile on his face.

“I will see you tomorrow,” Rain said before bending towards Chris and pressing a peck on his cheek.

Chris returned the peck and gave her a gentle hug before turning towards the Elevator and walking away with a wave.

##

Rain had one last glance at Chris before stepping into her hotel room. She leaned against the door and had a bright smile on her face as her hand went to the cheek Chris had kissed. She felt like the school girl she was when she first met him.

It was during the second last year of high school when her parents moved to Sacramento, California. Her father had been offered a better job there as head of a research and development department. She was very willing to move with them because she had started to feel a little out of place in a mostly black school. Her father’s new job got him quite the raise and he was now able to pay tuition for a more prestigious school. She passed the entrance exam with high grades and her father had been very proud.

Sadly when she first entered the classroom, she felt just as out of place among a class of mostly white kids. Nevertheless, Chris happened to be class head at the time and tried to make her entry into the class go as smoothly as possible. He quickly shot down any comments on her nationality and the respect the class seemed to have for him made it very effective. Outside of the classroom though, the other classes were less impressed by his standing and thought she was fair game. She went through quite a few hardships, but found a bit of a confidante in Chris, he helped with some of the courses she was less proficient in and she was able to return the favor with some of the courses Chris had trouble with.

Eventually they grew rather fond of each other, and started dating a few times. When the time came for them to graduate they both graduated Cum Laude. Sadly, things changed when they were both offered full coverage of their tuition in different Universities a few states apart.

At first they tried to stay in touch, but eventually lost contact over the course of a few months. School caught up and they wanted to pass their courses with good grades. It was a long time, but she would always remember him as the kindest man she ever knew.

It had gotten quite late and Rain figured it was about time to go to sleep.

##

Chris was whistling the whole time as he walked back to his room and switched over to humming as he closed the door behind him. With a quick pull he took of his tie and laid it down on the desk.

If he had wanted to, he could have stayed in his room this whole evening reading through all his notes for the umpteenth time and editing his report. Something made him decide to leave his room though, if he hadn’t he would not have met Rain. He was still a little perplexed that of all hotels in Tokyo they had picked the same one, as if someone was pulling the strings that led them to meet again and catch up. Chris was thankful they had though, Rain would still creep into his thoughts from time to time, he always figured she would have long been married and be impossible to find again though.

Rain Okuda, he remembered the first time he met her, she was a beautiful girl but a little shy. She wore her long hair in a braid, and dressed herself in baggy trousers, cardigans and shirts. As class head, he had taken it on himself to make her feel as welcome in the class as he possibly could. He took her under his wing to show her the ropes in class politics and helped her with Mathematics and Science while she helped him with English and Social studies.

Chris remembered how nervous he felt when he finally gathered the courage to ask her out to Prom. He realized that it was silly of him to feel that way, when Rain didn’t hesitate for a moment to accept his invitation. They were quite a pair when they turned up dressed in a tuxedo and dressing gown. Chris remembered standing by the stairs in her parents house with his mouth wide open as he saw her walking down the stairs. She wore a beautiful dark blue dress with a red corsage on her wrist. Her hair had been neatly braided and put up to the back of her head. He also remembered her parents smiling as they saw him look as he did.

It was a great night and they were even two votes short of becoming prom King and Queen. A couple of their friends had taken it upon themselves to enroll them into the voting. He wasn’t sure how Rain had felt back then, but Chris was sure she would have been a beautiful prom Queen.

Chris shook his head from the memories, and continued to undress himself and prepare for bed.

##

The following day Chris kicked ass in the meetings, and was a few final edits away from landing the contract. There would be one more meeting the next day and if all went well, he would have made the deal with two days to spare. The Japanese had already mentioned that if the last negotiations had finished, they would invite him to a karaoke bar. Ancient tradition is what they called it, and Chris felt that it was a bad idea to decline. He would need some practice though.

##

Rain had spent the day visiting a few temples in the city and striding along a few markets and stores. She was enjoying herself and felt inspired by the many sights and smells that Tokyo offered. She took a lot of moments to just sit down and make sketches in an empty sketchbook. Somewhere along the way she noticed her pencil had sort of moved on his own and sketched Chris’ eyes. She wanted to continue but would feel a lot better if he would give her permission. She left it at just the eyes and turned to another page to draw one of the early blooming Sakura trees.

##

Rain was sitting in the lobby around six pm waiting for Chris to Arrive as she sketched one of the Bonsai trees that was standing in the lobby. A few minutes past six, she felt like someone was standing behind her looking over her shoulder.

“Very nice,” she heard Chris say in his familiar voice gently breaking her concentration. Rain closed her sketchbook and looked up and behind her to see Chris standing bend over her slightly with a pleasant smile on his face. She stood up and turned towards him pressing a small peck on his lips.

Chris was taken aback a little, but eventually put his arms around her.

“Good to see you’re still an artist,” Chris said, “you already had talent way back when.”

“Thank you,” Rain replied putting her arms around his neck,”it’s good to see you again.”

Rain removed her arms from his neck and turned around to grab her bag.

“Where would you like to go?” Chris asked.

“I’ve been exploring the city today and saw a nice sushi bar a few blocks over,” she said, “what do you think of that?”

“Sounds good to me,” Chris smiled gesturing towards the door.

Chris was dressed a little less neatly, but still looked very good. He noticed that Rain had clearly swapped her baggy clothing for something a lot more fitting for her.

“Thanks,” Rain smiled, “So do you. Half expected you to turn up all suited up, and make me feel under dressed though, glad you didn’t.”

“Expected us to go to something a lot less expensive after what we paid yesterday.”

“Totally worth it though, the food was amazing.”

“True that,” Chris replied as he put a gentle arm on Rain’s back to lead her to the door. “Lead the way.”

Rain smiled at that comment and put an arm around Chris’.

“How were today’s negotiations?”

“Great, if all goes well I’ll be sealing the deal tomorrow with a bit of Karaoke.”

“Really?” Rain asked a little surprised.

“Ancient tradition is what they called it, I call shenanigans but heck, why not?”

“How’s you singing voice?”

“A bit rusty, but I used to be able to pull off an impressive Frank Sinatra.”

“Now you made me curious,” Rain smiled.

“Maybe if I had a few Sake’s,” Chris grinned.

“I’ll hold you to that,” Rain commented with a playful grin.

“How was your day,” Chris said after they had walked a few meters in silence.

“Great, I’m starting to love Tokyo,” Rain said with an all-encompassing flourish of her free arm. “The sights, the smells, the people.”

“It is quite a sight,” Chris commented. “I saw your sketchbook was getting quite full already.”

“Yeah, if I’m not careful I’ll be going through a sketchbook a day,” Rain commented.

“Is that a bad thing?” Chris asked a little taken aback.

“No, it’s amazing,” Rain replied with a big smile, “I haven’t been this inspired in years, I knew it wouldn’t be a mistake to go here.”

Chris smiled brilliantly at Rain’s glee, it was very contagious.

“It’s a few buildings down the street,” said Rain as they turned a corner.

Chris simply nodded as they continued to walk.

“Do you know how to use chopsticks?” Rain asked.

“Yeah, I visit Chinatown whenever I feel like having something other than the usual chow. I always ask for chopsticks.”

“Good, been to a sushi bar before?”

“Yup that too,” he smiled, “an American one though as you might expect.”

“Okay, I think this one works with charts to fill in.”

As they walked up to the sushi bar, a waitress noticed the pair and bowed in greeting. They returned the greeting before they were led to a free table with a single bench.

The waitress started talking in Japanese and Chris was a little surprised when Rain did the same

After a while the waitress turned away from the table and walked towards the counter to grab something.

“She explained how the chart works and asked if we wanted something to drink,” Rain explained with smile as she saw the surprise on Chris’ face. “I ordered heatedSake.”

“Okay, I didn’t know you spoke Japanese,” Chris commented.

“I have a Japanese father, of course I do,” Rain smiled.

“I could have known that,” Chris reacted feeling a bit silly.

After a short while, the waitress returned to the table with a set of charts. Rain thanked her before the waitress walked to the kitchen.

Rain took a moment to check the chart before scooting a little closer to Chris and starting to explain to him how it worked.

Chris was a bit overwhelmed by Rain’s smell as it wafted towards him. He took a moment to enjoy it as he looked at her face from the side. Her cute little button nose was pointed at the paper and she had a hint of a smile on her lips.

He bent a little closer to her after grabbing his reading glasses. To his pleasant surprise, the chart was written in English, he would have felt silly needing to ask for a translation of every meal before he could make an order.

“Basically,” Rain started, “you check the box next to the meal you want to order and put it on the side of the table. They have,Sashimi,Sushi, a few types of noodle soup and so on.”

“Seems straightforward enough,” Chris responded.

“Quite so,” Rain smiled turning her head to look Chris in the eyes. The glasses suited him quite well and the smile he seemed to have on his face most of the time gave him some boyish charm. “In a bit the waitress will come to our table with two warm towels. Is a bit of a tradition, you can use it to wipe your hands before the food arrives.”

“Thanks for the instructions,” Chris smiled, “Wouldn’t want to make a fool of myself.”

Rain smiled again as she took one of the pens on the table and marked her first bits of food.

“What are you having?” Chris asked.

“I’m gonna start with a noodle soup,” she replied, “by the way she only notes down what’s on the  charts after crossing  the order out. If you were to think about ordering every course you are planning to take, there’s a chance you get everything at the same time.”

“Ah, wouldn’t want that now would we,” Chris grinned, “could make this last a bit too short for my taste.”

Rain grinned in response and was glad Chris enjoyed being with her. She felt the same way.

Chris also marked the noodle soup on his chart and put it on the side of the table. The waitress indeed turned up with a set of warm towels as well as the heatedSake Rain had ordered.

“Duomo Arigatou,” Chris said hoping he didn’t botch the pronunciation. The waitress gave a smile before taking a few notes and crossing out the orders as Rain had explained.

“Was that right?” Chris asked after the waitress had walked away.

“Yup, almost spot on,” Rain smiled leaving a short pause as they wiped their hands on the warm towel.

“If you are indeed going to be having a Karaoke evening with those future Japanese business partners of yours, there’s another thing that might be good to know,” She took the ceramic jug ofSake, “I’ll pretend to be the host for this one,” she smiled. “This is called aTokkuri,”as she took the jug in two hands with her palms down, “Because we are equal, I’m pouring the drink as such. Your future business partner is probably the highest rank that will be in the room, he is therefore allowed to pour with one hand, could you wrap your cup with your right hand and put it in the palm of your left?”

Chris did as she asked and took the cup as she had suggested.

Rain was pretty careful as she poured his cup, and replaced theTokkuri on the tray.

“After the host has poured the drink,” Rain continued, “It is a custom for the guest to keep the host’s cup full.”

Chris got the message as Rain took the cup the same way. He took theTokkuriin two hands and poured the drink.

“Now what was the Status of the man you negotiated with?”

“The CEO was in the room, but he had a spokesman that speaks English quite fluently,” Chris explained.

“Yowza, this is a big contract you got, isn’t it?” Rain said a little surprised.

“Definitely,” Chris replied, “there’s quite a bit of money in the running, and landing it could get me a raise,and a holiday.”

“Well,” Rain replied, “if he brings his cup up for a toast, make sure to have the rim of your cup below his as you tap it gently.”

Rain held up her cup and Chris tapped it with his.

“Kanpai,” they explained as the cups met and they took a drink.

“When you take your first sip it is seen as respectful if you turn away slightly from your superior.”

“Okay,” Chris replied a little surprised by the level of nuance of having a cup of Sake, “Does this count with every  drink?”

“No mostly it’s just the first one or the customary drink when you seal a deal. Just don’t hound theTokkuri or take really large sips,” she added with a smile

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Chris smiled, “Thanks for your lesson in Japanese etiquette.”

“No problem, every little thing can help to make a good impression in a country like Japan.”

“Yeah, that’s getting clearer by the day,” Chris replied shaking his head a little, “Still feel like I’m doing a good job though.”

“I’m sure you are Chris,” Rain smiled, “You seem to be taking all this very seriously.”

“That’s me all right, mister serious.”

“I’m having great fun being around you,” Rain smiled looking him in the eyes again, “it’s like we never parted ways.”

“I feel the same way,” Chris replied with a smile of his own.

The noodle soup came and Chris and Rain were really enjoying talking themselves through good food and probably about fourTokkuriofSake.”

##

“I feel like Karaoke,” Rain admitted as they left the sushi bar.

“So am I actually, know of any Karaoke bar’s nearby?” Chris replied as he put out an arm for Rain to take.

“I think I saw one a little closer to the Hotel,” Rain replied taking the arm Chris offered.

“Ah yeah, I recall passing by one on the way here,” Chris reacted.

“Okay, let’s go!”

##

The Karaoke bar was rather busy but a hostess was able to lead them to a small cubicle in the back. There was a small touch screen with a selection menu on the far wall and there was a bit of room in-between the screen and the table. There was also a smaller touch screen hanging by the door that looked like it was used to order drinks and small snacks. Again it was pretty self explanatory, select your tune, grab the microphone and sing along to the text viewed on a screen built into the table.

The waitress left them to their own devices, and Rain took a moment to check out the tablet by the door.

“When do you have the negotiations?” she asked out of curiosity.

“1 in the afternoon,” Chris smiled looking through the list of available songs, “But I still need to work on making some edits to the contract.”

“So you can’t make it too late,” Rain smiled,

“Yeah, could easily do with an hour of Karaoke though,” Chris responded.

“Cool, sounds like a plane,” Rain replied. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Could do with a beer if they have any.”

“They do, and I think I’ll join you.

She made the orders and took a seat on the couch.

“Awesome!” Chris exclaimed after a while of looking through the list.

“What is?” Rain asked a bit surprised by the sudden outburst.

“They have Sinatra,” Chris explained.

“Then what will you be singing for me?” she smiled at the expression of glee Chris had on his face.

“You’ll hear it when it starts,” Chris grinned mysteriously as he made a selection.

In no time Rain recognized the first notes of Sinatra’s ‘I’ve got you under my skin’. Curious what Chris would make of it she looked at his face as he seemed to mentally prepare himself.

At first Chris seemed a bit unsure as he started singing, and held his eyes aimed at the ground. Eventually he got in to the song better and started to sound quite a bit like Frank Sinatra. He started to smile as he sung and looked at Rain as if the song was meant for her. She felt herself starting to smile and blush a bit as Chris sang on. At one point he got really close to her and took hold of her hand smiling as he sang on.

When Chris sang the final note, Rain started clapping and cheering for him.

Chris bowed as he joked, “Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all evening.”

“You were right,” Rain commented, “You really do an impressive Sinatra.”

“Told ya,” Chris replied with mock arrogance.

“Now now, no need to get cocky,” Rain smiled as she took the microphone from Chris and walked to the selection screen. Chris sat down as the waitress came along with two glasses of beer.

“Arigatou,”Chris said as she put them down on the table.

The woman gave a small bow and left the room again.

Rain had quickly made a selection and the song started to play. It was ‘You’re still the one’ by Shania Twain. Chris hadn’t heard that song for a long time but Rain gave an impressive version and he sort of felt like she was singing to him as he had been singing to her.

With the last notes, Chris started clapping and cheering for her as well.

“Thank you,” Rain smiled with a small bow an a smile.

“It’s a good song,” Chris smiled.

Rain sat down next to Chris and took her glass from the table.

“Kanpai!” they said in unison as they tapped their glasses together before taking a sip.

“Let’s do a duet,” Rain suggested as she put down her glass.

“What did you have in mind?” Chris asked as he did the same.

“Let’s take a look, shall we,” Rain said as she pulled him to the screen.

Chris let himself be dragged to the screen, and ended up with an arm around her waist as they looked to the screen together. Rain pressed the button for the duet category and took a while to scroll through the list. He bathed in her closeness for a moment enjoying the way Rain smelled and how her soft body felt against his.

“I spotted one,” Chris said as he used his free hand to go back one screen. “How about, ‘The Time Of My Life’ from dirty dancing?”

“I loved that movie,” Rain smiled, “Let’s do it. Because I’m having a great time.”

“So am I, love,” Chris replied without a look in her eyes and a smile.

“Let’s do this then, handsome,” Rain replied putting a hand on Chris’ shoulder to turn him towards the table.

Chris pushed the button and they turned towards the screen that was built into the table so that you could read the lyrics and still interact with your audience. The music started playing and Chris and Rain were still standing close together with the microphone in between them, and an arm around each other’s waists.

Their voices matched well and if there had been an audience they would have had a nice round of a applause.

After an hour, they had sung a few more songs together and decided to return to the hotel.

##

Chris had walked Rain to her hotel room door and waited for Rain have unlocked the door.

“I had a great time,” Rain said, “thanks again.”

“It was my pleasure, Rain,” Chris smiled.

“Will I see you tomorrow?”

“Don’t know, it depends on how the negotiations go, if they go well, I will be having a Karaoke night with the new business partners,” Chris replied looking in the distance as he was thinking, “If not, well, I will probably have to make some edits during the evening to see if I can change some of the contract to make it a bit more appealing for them.”

“Sounds tricky,” Rain replied.

“True,” Chris smiled, “But I’m quite confident, and will stay in touch.”

“You’d better,” Rain smiled as she went on her tiptoes and pressed a soft kiss on Chris’ lips.

Chris was taken aback at first, but moved his hand to the back of her head puling her into a soft but passionate kiss.

After a while, Rain broke the kiss but kept her face close to his.

“Thank you,” Rain smiled.

“What for?” Chris asked.

“Everything, from High School to this moment, it feels… good.”

“It does,” Chris smiled pressing a soft kiss on her lips before stepping away from her, “Thank you, I’ll stay in touch.”

Chris turned around and walked towards the elevator to get to his floor. Rain waited by the door until Chris stepped into the elevator and waved as the door closed.

##

The following day, Chris ordered a breakfast from room service and took a final moment to prepare for the meeting.

Around twelve thirty, Chris walked to the entrance to the lobby and was met by the driver that had driven him to the company a few times before. He was a good driver, and although his English wasn’t that good was able to have some small talk with Chris as he was driven to the building.

It was a large skyscraper with modern architecture that housed a lot of employees, Chris was met by a receptionist as he entered the building and was led towards the elevator. The negotiations he had been having were all done in a sizable meeting room on the highest floor of the building. The view was amazing, but he hadn’t had the chance to take a while to look out the window. As he reached the top floor he put his phone in air plane mode as he entered the room. He was the first to get there this time and took a chance to set up his laptop and papers before taking a moment to enjoy the view and find his focus.

##

The meeting went swimmingly, and within a couple of hours the contract was accepted and signed. The CEO pressed a button by the door and his secretary soon entered the room with aTokkuriof Sake and enough cups for himself, his spokesman and Chris. Chris remembered vividly what steps were supposed to be taking due to Rain’s clear instructions. He was given a cup by the CEO and gently bowed his head in reference as the CEO poured the drink with one hand. As the CEO had poured the drinks, Chris offered to pour a cup for the CEO. He still had his head bowed in reference as he used two hands to gently pour the cup.

They seemed flattered by his respect for their traditions and the CEO said something in Japanese to the translator.

“Mister Tamazaki would like to offer you his gratitude for your respect for our traditions and the pleasant nature of our negotiations.”

“Duomo arigatou gosaimasu,” Chris replied with another bow, “Thank you for your hospitality.”

Mister Tamazaki also bowed as well as his translator, before holding up his cup, and saying something in Japanese.

“Mister Tamazaki toasts to a fruitful and pleasant collaboration between his company and yours and hopes for many years of friendship and respect.”

“Arigatou,” Chris replied as he held up his cup ready to tap it against theirs below the rim, “Kanpai.”

“Kanpai,”Both the CEO and his translator reacted.

##

After drinking their Sake, the CEO and his spokesman left his room with a signed copy of the contract. They would fax it to Chris’ office so that his Boss could see that they had accepted the contract. The door opened again and a secretary stepped through. She bowed in greeting before gesturing towards the door. He was lead through the hallways, and eventually to the exit.

##

“Congratulations with landing your first overseas contract,” said his boss, “Mister Tamazaki spoke highly of you and hopes for many years of Collaboration, well done,”

“Thank you sir,” Chris replied with a smile.

“I heard from them that you were going to a Karaoke bar at six pm,”

“That’s right,”

“Good enjoy yourself and considered the rest of the week and next week as a holiday.”

“I would like to ask for a favor,” Chris mentioned a bit hesitantly.

“Go on,”

“I met a girl on Tuesday that I know from high school, she is here on a holiday and I was wondering if I could have another week off so that I can travel back to America with her.”

“With all the good work you have done, Chris I can grant you another week, you still have plenty of free days left so yes you can stay longer.”

“Much obliged mister Greenworth,” Chris said with a small fist pump.

“Truth be told, I think it was about time you found yourself a girlfriend, it’s bad to be married to your work, trust me I know.”

“Thank you again James,” Chris replied.

“No problem, let me know when you would like to leave and I will arrange your flight back to be on the same date, maybe even the same flight.”

“Thank you sir, have a good day,”

“Same to you, Chris and have fun at the Karaoke. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye,” Chris replied as he broke of the call.

He did a little victory dance before preparing himself for the Karaoke.

##

The driver was waiting for him again to drive him to the Karaoke place mister Tamazaki had decided on.

The building looked rather imposing and the entrance was quite sizable and brightly lit. It looked like the CEO spared no expenses on the venue. Chris had send Rain a text message mentioning that he had landed the contract and inviting her for breakfast in his room. He wanted to tell rain about his successful request for another week in person and breakfast the following day seemed like a great opportunity.

##

Chris was met by Tamazaki’s spokesman and led to the room they had booked. Chris kept to Japanese customs and greeted everyone in the room with a bow. Apart from mister Tamazaki and his translator there were a few other people that had been invited, one of them was an older woman that sat next to mister Tamazaki and Chris thought she was probably his wife. Another woman was sitting by an empty chair that was soon taken by the Translator. There were a few other men around and Chris took a seat that seemed to have been prepared for him. The translator, Osada Harami, introduced Chris to everyone else that was in the room and most of them seemed to know English. Chris was not sure if they were invited for that reason, but he felt quite welcome in their midst.

There was first a round of Sake and Chris was once again invited to pour the drink for Mister Tamazaki.

Chris had a great time, but seeing all these successful men with a partner made him miss having a woman around. More specifically he missed having Rain by his side. This took him by surprise a bit as he realized that he really cared for her and he felt reminiscent of the times they shared in high school as well as the great time he had had with here these last two days.

Time went by quickly and after a coupleTokkuriof Sake and a bunch of songs, the group left the karaoke bar, and returned to their home. Chris was again driven by the same driver and thanked him for being a good driver, and getting him from a to b save and sound. He probably wouldn’t be seeing him again.

##

Chris woke up around 8 in the morning and felt like he had only just started a well deserved holiday. Half an hour later he had dressed himself in a casual set of clothes and heard a knock at his door.

It was Rain looking as lovely as ever. Chris opened the door and stepped to the side to let Rain in.

She quickly jumped into his arms with her legs around his waist before assaulting his lips with kisses. Chris was more surprised than ever but could easily take her weight.

Without a breath Rain continued kissing him passionately as he closed the door with his foot, and pushed it shut with Rain’s back. As they took a quick breather, Rain smiled contently and looked Chris in his eyes.

“I actually missed being with you yesterday.”

“Same her, love,” Chris replied, “I would have loved to have you by my side during the karaoke.”

“Congratulations on that by the way.”

“Thanks Rain,” Chris smiled. “I have an announcement to make.”

Rain put her feet down on the ground, and straightened her skirt before saying, “Go on.”

“My boss gave me an extra week off,” Chris grinned.

“Awesome,” Rain replied.

“He could even put me on the same plane as you if you want.”

“That is crazy,” Rain smiled.

“He knows quite a few people in the aviation business.”

“Sounds great, Chris, would love to have you around.”

“Would love to have you around as well, Rain,” Chris grinned.

“So shall we order our breakfast,” Rain said, “I’m starving.”

“Sure.”

##

Chris and Rain ordered a rather extensive breakfast and ate it with smiles and small talk.

“So your holiday just started right?” Rain asked.

“Yup, first day of the two weeks to follow.”

“Great, what would you like to do first?”

“I would like to see one of the temples actually,” Chris replied, “A bit of peace and quiet away from meetings and preparation, It’s been a year since I had my last vacation.”

“Wow, how did you manage?”

“Work was busy and fulfilling,” Chris replied, “so I didn’t really miss it until now.”

“It’ll do you good to unwind,”

“Definitely,” Chris replied before bending towards Rain and pressing a kiss on her lips.

##

The city seemed even busier than normal when the Hanami festival started. People had come from far and wide to see the beautifulSakuratrees in bloom. The beautiful pink blossoms were a sight to see and Chris and Rain were enjoying their visit. Rain was finally given her chance to make a quick sketch of Chris as he posed in front of one of theSakura’sin a bit of a quieter place in the park. Rain made a quick sketch s she could color it later when she got back home. She was a fan of oil paint as well as watercolor.

“You’ve got talent, my love, it’s like I’m looking into a mirror,” Chris said as he looked at the sketch Rain had made.

“Thank you, you should visit my studio some day,”

“Maybe I can land a trip for negotiations in Los Angeles soon.”

“Maybe, just know that my door will always be open for you.”

“And mine for you, Rain,” Chris said before bending towards Rain and pressing a passionate kiss on her lips.

They stood below theSakura as they kissed each other passionately.

##

The weeks went by quickly and Chris and Rain soon had to travel back to America, it had been two and a half weeks of many pleasant memories. Chris’ boss had been able to ramp them up to first class and they enjoyed a long, relaxed trip back home.

They stayed in touch in many day to follow and spent many weekends together in either San Fransisco or Los Angeles. Meeting each other in Japan would be the start of many years together as Rain had soon moved in with Chris in San Fransisco, he had emptied a special room just for Rain where she could store her art and make new art.

A few years later, they married when Rain had gotten pregnant with what would be the first of three beautiful children. Rain was able to publish a few more books, and sold some of her artwork as well as being part of an art show of the many local talents.

Chris had landed many new contracts, but since Japan he preferred to only stay for as long as the negotiations would take so that he could soon return to his beautiful wife and lovely children.

The sentence ‘it’s a small world after all’ had gotten a whole new meaning for Chris and Rain.

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